Prevent Atherosclerosis and Avoid an Angioplasty – Start Today!

President Bill Clinton underwent an angioplasty and stent procedure yesterday. An angioplasty is a procedure whereby a balloon is inserted into an artery that is clogged. The artery is actually expanded by the balloon and the clog is flattened. At the same time as the artery expands the stent with is a metallic mesh type device also expands, locks into place and holds the artery open so that more blood can flow through it.

President Clinton had gone through heart by pass surgery just a few years ago and yet the arteries clogged up again. The lesson to be learned here is that unless you take steps to prevent the process of atherosclerosis (the build up of plaques on the insides of your arteries) you could be at risk for the same kinds of plaque build up.

Conventional wisdom states that by lowering LDL cholesterol, the risk of plaque build up and heart disease in lowered, at least in people with existing cardiovascular risk factors, like obesity, familial history, insulin resistance, and hypertension. But even people with out the risk factors can develop heart disease and possible heart attacks.

The truth of the matter is that LDL in its natural state is not “sticky” and will not adhere to the insides of heart arteries very easily. It is only when the LDL becomes oxidized by free radicals and inflammatory processes in the body, that the LDL can become dangerous.

Certain naturally occurring compounds called flavonoids are capable of substantially lowering the risk of LDL from being oxidized. Compounds like Quercetin, and Grape Seed Extract can be taken on a daily basis to prevent oxidation of LDL. Recommended amounts are about 250-500 mg. per day.

Does the Size of Your Olympian Lightning Bolt Really Matter?

One has to be in awe of the commitment to health, exercise and appreciation of the human body that the ancient Greeks demonstrated. Their concept of the Olympics was an example of just how crucial physical well being and athletic competition was to their culture. Films like Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, show us these beautiful Gods as we have come to expect from mythology.

The pictures and sculptures of personages like Apollo and David depict magnificently trained and cared for bodies. Hippocrates an ancient Greek physician, often referred to as the “Father of Modern Medicine” espoused not only exercise but healthy diet as well. However, these incredible sculptures were generally depicted with a rather diminutive penis.

Despite the beautiful male body forms that are associated with both Greek athletes and Greek Gods like the Olympians or their predecessors the Titans, the average height of an ancient Greek man was about 5’5″.

It turns out that, that in Ancient Greece small and uncircumcised penis was culturally desirable in a man, whereas a bigger or circumcised penis was seen as grotesque or comical, only to be found on Fertility Gods, half-animal/half human mythological creatures like Satyrs, or ugly old men, or savages.

All a Matter of Changing Times and Perception

Though I think most of us would still agree with the image of the beautiful male body depicted in ancient Greek art, our perception of a desirable penis and/or breast size changes culturally over relatively shorts periods of history.

We can all think of the quintessential beauty thought to be depicted by the rubenesque female painting done in the 17th century. By today’s standards those women would be considered to be approaching obesity.

It’s actually quite interesting to review the reported results of medical and sexual studies and interviews of large groups of men and woman relative to their satisfaction with their penis or breast size.

Males may often underestimate the size of their own penis relative to that of others, because of the shortening perspective from looking down, or because of the accumulation of fat at the base of the penis. A survey found that many men who believed that their penis was of inadequate size had, in fact, average-sized penises.

An internet study done a few years ago found that of the heterosexual men and women reporting, only 55% of participating men were satisfied with their penis size, whereas 85% of participating women said they were “very satisfied” with the size of their partner’s penis, and only 6% of women rated their partner as smaller than average. In the same study, 70% of women expressed dissatisfaction with their breasts, whereas the majority of men (56%) were satisfied with their partner’s breasts and only 20% of men wished their partner had larger breasts.

So, where does all this leave us? Well, as for me it left me with a question, If we were to survey 1000 men around the age of 45-50, who had average physiques for men in that age group, and we asked them if they had to make a choice between having the body of a Greek God but with a smaller than average penis or having the average body of a man in their age group but with a larger than average penis…which would they choose?

The Wolfman – Is It the Moon or Just Rye Bread?

It’s midnight. The forest is pitch black except for those spaces between the trees that the moon light cuts like a laser beam across the forest floor. The transformation is hideous, beautiful, alarming and sexy at the same time. What is this howling creature capable of? Should I run or just give into the unexplainable animal magnetism of this hero/predator? Or should our Wolfman have just avoided eating rye bread for dinner a few hours earlier?

The moon holds a magical and mystical place in the history of human culture, so it’s no wonder that many myths – from werewolves to induced lunacy to epileptic seizures surround its cycles.

What does the Science Say?

Reliable studies examining the phases of the moon to births, heart attacks, deaths, suicides, violence, psychiatric hospital admissions and epileptic seizures, among other things, have over and over again found little or no connection. Modern studies may not be able to prove a full-moon effect, but it can help to disprove it. Take the case of lycanthropy, the delusional belief a patient has that he or she has been turned into an animal, usually a werewolf because of the lunar phases, and a common theme in the classic horror movie with Lon Chaney.

But the latest theory is interesting and probably more plausible. Scientists believe that the rye bread eaten by the poor at the time was probably contaminated with the fungus ergot, which caused the delusions. Because there is not much “box-office” associated with rye bread, I think we can remain confident that this will not be a major theme in The Wolfman movie premiering this weekend with Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.

Etta James Hospitalized – Complementary Options for Protecting the Health of the Elderly.

Etta James was born in 1938. Her singing spans Blues, Rock&Roll, Gospel and Jazz.  She is well known for her songs  “At Last” and “A Sunday Kind of Love”.  She has won 4 Grammy  Awards over a dozen Blues Music Awards and was inducted into both the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

The singer has dealt with substance abuse issues on and off since the 1970’s and in 2009 was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

While receiving treatment for over-dependency on pain-killing drugs, a urinary tract infection spread throughout her body causing a condition called sepsis, which is basically the spreading of either the bacteria or the toxins of the bacteria causing the UTI into the blood.  It is also known as blood poisoning or septicemia.

The development of sepsis in James case is not unusual because, the elderly, black people and people taking many different types of powerful prescription drugs are at higher risk for sepsis.

As people age it is often not unusual to see them taking 5, 10 or even more different kinds of drugs (i.e. for blood pressure, for diabetes, for pain, for their hearts, for their cholesterol, the list goes on and on). 

Often times some of the powerfully strong medications, like steroids for example can further compromise immune systems in the elderly that may be suspect to begin with and increase the chances for infections occurring and spreading, as in the case of James.

For example, taking 500 mg per day of magnesium with 500-1000 mg of day of potassium can help to either eliminate or reduce the need for high blood pressure medications.

Incorporating fibers into the diet can help to control blood sugar levels. In addition, supplements like chromium picolinate at 400-1000mcg per day and alpha-lipoic acid can help with insulin sensitivity and blood sugar control as well.

Taking 5000 IU a day of vitamin A, along with 1000 mg per day of Vitamin C can help to prevent the immune system from becoming compromised.

Co-enzyme Q-10 is an energy substrate that the body must have and can help to maintain production of energy, especially in heart muscles.

When the elderly are taking so many synthetic prescription drugs the load on their livers and phase I and Phase II detoxification systems is enormous. The are the systems in the body that prepare chemicals, that in many cases can be toxic for elimination.

In general the Phase I system prepares molecules for elimination by Phase II compounds.  One of the detox compounds of Phase II, is called glucoronic acid and the process by which it eliminates potentially toxic breakdown product of things we eat as well as prescription drugs is called glucoronidation.

An enzyme is our bodies called beta-glucoronidase prevents glucoronnidation from binding with the toxic compounds it its meant to eliminate.  Theis can be of concern especially to the elderly or actually anyone on multiple prescription drugs.

The dietary supplement calcium-d-glucarate blocks the action of the enzyme beta-glucornidase and allows the detoxification via glucornidation to proceed.. This alone can be of significant benefit to the elderly whose liver and other systems may already be compromised.

There is an excellent case to be made for physicians becoming more aware  of the natural medicines that can be used adjunctively with the prescription drugs so that fewer of them can be used and those that are used may either work better, with less side-effects in some cases and less toxicity to protect the immune system and over-all health.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Games – The Gold Standard For Death Risks

Ignoring fatalities that occur because of slips, ice/snow caused accidents, people not being able to afford to heat their homes…is there any indication that we need to worry more about dying during the winter months than the other months? Are our Olympic winter athletes risking more than a medal?

The answer seems to be yes!

Reaching for the Gold in colder temperatures increases potential health threats because there is a relatively significant difference in risk of serious illness or death depending upon the temperature!

Deaths by heart attack and stroke increase significantly in the cold months of the year. Studies of large groups of people show increases in both fatal and non-fatal heart attacks during the winter months. Cold air can constrict arteries, raise heart rate and blood pressure and cause blood to clot more easily, all of which can increase the risk of a cardiovascular event. These factors are particularly true for people who have only sporadic exposure to cold weather.

We have all been told by our mothers to “button-up, you will catch a chill”. Is that just an old wives tales or is that actually some scientific basis buried behind it? Well in fact Japanese researchers indicate that though the “cold” can not directly cause you to get sick with things like the flu, it can and does suppress you immune system and increase your chances of viral infection. Interestingly enough, overheating does not increase your chances of contracting a viral infection.

Results reported by the Second National Registry of Myocardial Infarction (heart attacks), winter was the top season for heart attacks, followed by fall, then spring, then summer.

There were 53% more heart attacks in winter than summer. January (the most dangerous month, showed twice as many heart attacks per day than July, the lowest month). Also heart attacks that occurred in the winter were more serious, causing more damage, with a fatality rate of 9%

An article by Clare Murphs of the BBC, “How Cold Turns Up the Heat on Health,” reminds us that many more deaths occur from chronic conditions that are exacerbated by cold weather. She also notes that, “For every degree the temperature drops below 18C, deaths in the UK go up by nearly 1.5%.”

The US National Center for Health Statistics for 2001-2008, shows that on average 7,200 Americans died each day during the months of December, January, February and March, compared to the average 6,400 who died daily during the rest of the year.

So exactly what is it that is causing the extra risk during the winter months?

Though no one knows for sure, here are some of the mostly likely suspects…

1. In the cold, blood vessels constrict to help conserve body heat. Narrowed vessels also mean higher blood pressure, which puts additional strain on the heart.

2. Snow shoveling is heavy exercise and people tend to think they are in better shape than they really are. Especially at risk are those who don’t exercise regularly and then try to clear out the driveway.

3. Though not as potentially serious, cholesterol levels due peak during the colder months.

4. Over eating and high fat content of holiday meals can interfere with heart and artery function and even the clotting system.

5. Alcohol can affect blood pressure and heart rhythms.

6. Delays in seeking medical help during the holidays. People can be traveling or just don’t want to be party poopers and put off seeking help when they don’t feel well.

As they say, (Who is “they” anyway?) – forearmed is forewarned! Hopefully this information will allow you to intelligently enjoy all of the joys and wonders of the holidays and beautiful winter locations.

Yours in life and health

Curt Hendrix M.S. C.C.N. C.N.S.